The Schoole of Vertue was a popular book on manners and morals for children, published in 1582.
First, say this prayer: “O God! enable us to follow virtue. Defend us this day. Let us abound with virtues, flee from vice, and go forward in good doing to our live’s end.”
Repeat the Lord’s Prayer night and morning.
How to wash and dress yourself.Don’t sleep too long.
Rise early; cast up your bed, and don’t let it lie.
Go down, salute your parents, wash your hands, comb your head, brush your cap and put it on.
Tie on your shirt-collar, fasten your girdle, rub your breeches, clean your shoes, wipe your nose on a napkin, pare your nails, clean your ears, wash your teeth.
Have your torn clothes mended, or new ones obtained.
Get your satchell and books, and haste to School, taking too pen, paper, and ink, which are necessary for use at school.
Then start off.
How to behave going to, and at, School.Take off your cap to those you meet; give way to passers by.
Call your playmates on your road.
At School salute your master, and the scholars.
Go straight to your place, undo your satchell, take out your books and learn your lesson; stick well to your books.
If you don’t work, you’ll repent it when you grow up.
Who could now speak of famous deeds of old, had not Letters preserved them?
Work hard then, and you’ll be thought worthy to serve the state.
Men of low birth win honour by Learning, and then are doubly happy.
When you doubt, ask to be told.
Wish well to those who warn you.
On your way home walk two and two orderly (for which men will praise you); don’t run in heaps like a swarm of bees like boys do now.)
Don’t whoop or hallow as in fox-hunting don’t chatter, or stare at every new fangle, but walk soberly, taking your cap off to all, and being gentle.
Do no man harm; speak fair words.
On reaching home salute your parents reverently.
How to wait at table.Look your parents in the face, hold up your hands, and say Grace before meate.
Grace before Meat.
Make a low curtesy; wish your parents’ food may do ’em good.
If you are big enough, bring the food to table.
Don’t fill dishes so full as to spill them on your parents’ dress, or they’ll be angry.
Have spare trenchers ready for guests.
See there’s plenty of everything wanted.
Empty the Voiders often.
Be at hand if any one calls.
When the meat is over, clear the table:
1. cover the salt,
2. have a tray by you to carry things off on,
3. put the trenchers, &c., in one Voider,
4. sweep the crumbs into another,
5. set a clean trencher before every one,
6. put on Cheese, Fruit, Biscuits, and
7. serve Wine, Ale or Beer.
When these are finished, clear the table, and fold up the cloth.
Then spread a clean towel, bring bason and jug, and when your parents are ready to wash, and when your parents are ready to wash, pour out the water.
Clear the table; make a low curtsey.
How to behave at your own dinner.Let your betters sit above you.
See others served first, then wait a while before eating.
Take salt with your knife, cut your bread, don’t fill your spoon too full, or sup your pottage.
Have your knife sharp.
Don’t smack your lips or gnaw your bones: avoid such beastliness.
Keep your fingers clean, wipe your mouth before drinking.
Don’t jabber or stuff.
Silence hurts no one, and is fitted for a child at table.
Don’t pick your teeth, or spit too much.
Don’t laugh too much.
Learn all the good manners you can.
They are better than playing the fiddle, though that’s no harm, but necessary; yet manners are more important.
How to behave at Church.Pray kneeling or standing.Confess your sins to God.
He knows your disease.
Ask in faith, and what you ask you shall have; He is more merciful than pen can tell.
Behave nicely in church, and don’t talk or chatter.
Behave reverently; the House of Prayer is not to be made a fair.
Avoid dicing and carding.
Delight in Knowledge, Virtue, and Learning.
Happy is he who cultivates Virtue.
Cursed is he who forsakes it.
Let reason rule you, and subdue your lusts.
These ills come from gambling: strife, murder, theft, cursing and swearing.
How to behave when conversing.
Understand a question before you answer it; let a man tell all his tale.
Then bow to him, look him in the face, and answer sensibly, not staring about or laughing, but audibly and distinctly, your words in due order, or you’ll straggle off, or stutter, or stammer, which is a foul crime.
Always keep your head uncovered.
Better unfed than untaught.
How to take a Message.
Listen to it well; don’t go away not knowing it.
Then hurry away, give the message; get the answer, return home, and tell it to your master exactly as it was told to you.
Against Anger, etc...The slave of Anger must fall.
Anger’s deeds are strange to wise men.
A hasty man is always in trouble.
Take no revenge, but forgive.
Envy no one.
An ill body breeds debate.
The Fruits of Charity, etc...Charity seeketh not her own, but bears patiently.
Love incites to Mercy.
Patience teaches forbearance.
Pray God to give thee Charity and Patience, to lead thee to Virtue’s School, and thence to Eternal Bliss.
Against Swearing.Take not God’s name in vain, or He will plague thee.
Beware of His wrath, and live well in thy vocation.
What is the good of swearing?
It kindles God’s wrath against thee.
God’s law forbids swearing, and so does the counsel of Philosophers.
Against filthy talking.Never talk dirt.
For every word we shall give account at the Day of Doom, and be judged according to our deeds.
Let lewd livers then fear.
Keep your tongue from vain talking.
Against Lying.To speak the truth needs no study, therefore always practise it and speak it.
Shame is the reward of lying.
Always speak the truth.
Who can trust a liar?
If a lie saves you once, it deceives you thrice.
From Francis Segar, 1582